Sheley prosecutor plans closing arguments Thursday

ROCK ISLAND – Prosecutors said Tuesday that they plan to present their closing arguments later this week in the murder trial of a man accused in the 2008 beating deaths of four people in northwest Illinois.

Nicholas Sheley is on trial in the slayings of two men, a woman and a toddler who were beaten to death with a hammer in a Rock Falls apartment in June 2008. Their slayings are among eight that authorities say Sheley committed in Illinois and Missouri over seven days.

Defense attorney Jeremy Karlin has said he doesn’t expect to call any witnesses on Sheley’s behalf. Assistant Attorney General Steve Nate, who is prosecuting Sheley, said he plans to offer final arguments Thursday after he calls his last witnesses.

Illinois State Police forensic scientist Jennifer MacRitchie testified Tuesday that blood-covered clothes found at the scene of the killings had Sheley’s DNA. Other blood samples from the clothes showed a mixture of DNA – some from Ronald Randall and some from Kenneth Ulve.

Sheley was convicted in 2010 of killing Randall in Galesburg. The 65-year-old’s body was found near a dumpster at a grocery store two days after he was killed. Sheley is on trial in the deaths of Kilynna Blake, 20, her son, Dayan, 2, Brock Branson, 29, and Ulve, 25.

Sheley’s sister, Heidi Sheley, also testified Tuesday, saying that on June 28, she got a telephone call from her brother asking where his wife, Holly, was. She said she didn’t know. She said that early on June 29, Holly came to her home saying she needed to borrow a pair of jeans because hers were covered with blood.

Bradley Sherrell, an iron worker in St. Louis, testified that on the morning of June 29, a man wearing a sleeveless gray Chicago Bears shirt and khaki shorts seemed curious about what they were doing. He said the man asked whether someone would take a picture of him near the site. Sherrell had a co-worker pose with the man before the man went on his way. He identified Sheley as that man.

Sheley is serving life sentences for the slayings of Randall and 93-year-old Russell Reed, of Sterling.

After the Rock Falls slayings, he allegedly killed an Arkansas couple in a hotel parking lot in Festus, Missouri, on June 29, 2008. He is awaiting trial in the deaths of Jill and Tom Estes and could face the death penalty, if convicted. Illinois does not have the death penalty.